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Various bottles of pills
May 1, 2019

Aggregating Demand for Pharmaceuticals is Appealing, but Pooling Is Not a Panacea

As low- and middle-income countries shift away from donor support, their challenge will be finding a way to aggregate demand in order to achieve the benefits that the pooled purchasing arrangements of vertical health programs now provide. As a first step in tackling this challenge, much can be learned from a diverse group of pooled procurement initiatives that have developed over the past 40 years in high-, middle-, and low-income countries. This note reviews the rationale and functions of these initiatives, notes their potential benefits and barriers, and draws lessons regarding how best to incorporate pooled pharmaceutical purchasing models into the design and implementation of health financing reforms in countries in transition.